Lost + Directionless by Candle Nine
a review by Aaron M. Smith
I have admittedly been sitting on a promise to review this album that has been out before Candle Nine even came to us with a request to review his newest release Lost + Directionless. In the end, I’m happy I spent so much time with this album; listening to it here and there, taking notes on scraps of paper or my cell phone.
As I approached this album and as I am listening now while doing the final edit to this review I wonder how one is to read the title. Is it “lost and directionless” or “lost plus directionless”. While on one hand the first option suggests two simultaneous and somewhat synonymous states of being, the second suggests a summing and doubling of the confusion brought on by a broken compass or lack of a map. The title suggests a journey. I think the questions the title suggests we ask of it’s grammatical nature by the use of the “+” in lieu of something more familiar are at the core of this album. The track names and music undoubtedly hint at a journey accurately described by the album title.
The album opener, Nowhere, begins with a burst of what I would define as unpleasant noise, but slips quickly into familiar, but still alluring brainfunk beats which are lead by a reverb drenched battlefield of guitars, vocals and strings. This album has “true grit” in both a textural and metaphoric sense.
The second track Ego Hunter some how feels like slipping into a hot tub of dopamine while not being at all “chill out” music. The yearning strings draw us into simpler, but equally funky drum patterns again accompanied by guitars.
Reach, somewhat in opposition to the previous tracks, slows the pace with a clam, undistorted piano and string focus. It also features the clearest vocals, mix-wise, thus far on the album. At approximately a third of the way through the album this pace change is welcomed and one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Hierarchy is a bit of a guitar and ambient sound epic, with a subtle four to the floor kick drum pattern driving the track. The intonations of the lyric “long live the king” over the track and, for this listener, a somewhat eerie and possibly social-political overtone, but typically I don’t like to read that far into music unless the message is very obvious.
Nausea, the fifth track, is big on noise and hasty beats. And in a strangely pleasant way sounds like it’s name sake. I want to keep listening for the instruments behind the noise, but feel somewhat repulsed by the wall of sound.
Persona opens with deep synth drones and strings. It is a slow boil that opens into one of those kinda sexy, kinda melancholy deep, chillout tracks. With distant and distorted vocals accompanied by subtle glitchy percussion and plucks swells of noise rise and fall leading the listen along its sonic pathways.
Rapunzel plays with choir, piano and noise as well as a haunting female vocal. While being much like the previous material, this track leaves its own particular footprint on the album. Following the slower, chiller tune Persona Rapunzel leads us down then back up into an explosion of percussion.
Singularity kind of wanders around a noisy bed of choir and strings. This is a beautiful beatless track and perhaps one of my personal favorites as the strings, although not an unfamiliar instrument on this album take turns with the piano as the rhythmic center of the piece. I am quite enamored with how this track ends with deep and clear strings. This works wonderfully as a penultimate track.
Finally, Gone, closes out the album and sounds much like it’s brothers and sisters—almost a extension of Singularity. As with some other tracks, there is a particular sense of yearning and a sense of an “epic” taking place. A personal journey. Or even, perhaps, a fairy tale or myth.
Overall Lost + Directionless is all about layers—you won’t get everything from it on the first listen. This is not to say the album is difficult. In fact, I find it rather accessible and not at all esoteric, all the while maintaining a canvas of textures that belong only to Candle Nine. Though obviously the album title is a clue, I don’t think anyone can listen to this album and feel a sense of a long and trying journey.
I would certainly recommend this album, which can be found on Candle Nine’s bandcamp page: